The Brenham City Council on Thursday gave the ok to changes to the city zoning ordinance that are targeted at expanding options for housing.

City of Brenham Development Services Director
Stephanie Doland meets with the city council on
Thursday to discuss changes to zoning that will
allow duplexes and twin homes to be built on
larger-than-standard residential lots on a specific
use basis.

Among the approved ordinance revisions are adjusting R-1 single-family residential zoning to allow duplexes and twin homes on lots of at least 7,500 square feet, as long as they receive specific use permits from the city council and Planning and Zoning Commission.  The council’s vote on the item was 5-1, with Mayor Atwood Kenjura voting against.  Councilmember Shannan Canales was absent. 

Development Services Director Stephanie Doland said this change came about from discussions held by the city-appointed housing task force, letting residential lots that are larger than the standard 7,000 square feet accommodate different forms of housing with the safeguard of needing approval first from the council and Planning and Zoning. 

Kenjura said he was opposed because he views R-1 zoning as “sacred” for neighborhood residential and does not feel this does enough to solve Brenham’s housing shortage.  He said while there are the protections of needing council and Planning and Zoning support, he wants to ensure that any complaints from residents adjacent to or nearby new development are heard.  He also said situations where someone buys a home, tears it down and puts up twin homes are not out of the realm of possibility. 

One audience member also spoke against the change, saying he was worried about housing coming in that does not fit the existing neighborhood. 

Mayor Pro Tem Clint Kolby said he understood the concerns shared, but felt the intent of the housing tax force was to eliminate barriers for rental housing and open up the market more, a sentiment shared by Councilmember Leah Cook.  Kolby said he does not believe the city will be “inundated” with requests to put duplexes in R-1 zoning districts, while Cook asked how many developers would want to build something in an area where it noticeably contrasts with its surroundings.  Cook also said she did not feel instances of teardowns would be commonplace, and in some cases where a broken-down house is being removed, the new development could actually be an improvement.

Other ordinance changes approved on Thursday were unanimous and did not come with much discussion.  They were to adjust R-2 mixed residential zoning to allow accessory dwelling units and twin homes as permitted uses, rather than specific uses, and include parameters for twin home and townhome developments; delete information on noise regulations that duplicates or contradicts the city’s noise nuisance ordinance; and remove provisions that allowed conditions to be placed upon variance requests.

One bullet on the list of ordinance revisions received no vote from the council, that being an item clarifying the definition of food truck sites to prohibit the storage of food trucks on residential property.  Doland said city staff needs to look “holistically” at the storage of all kinds of tow-behind vehicles within residential districts, including RVs, travel trailers and boats, rather than just food trucks.  The item will come back to council at a later date.


  1. I am beyond disgusted . Our City Council just cannot see the forest for the trees. Their whole mindset is to make this a low income-rental town. Just amend the ordinances to suit their wants ! I have said before and I will say it again ‘ you are leading us in the wrong direction. You think that lower priced rentals and duplexes will solve the problem, YOU ARE WRONG. Just more unkept homes that park their many cars in the front yard, leave their garbage can in the street for days, never mow their lawn, and live there until every mini-blind has been torn from the windows. The owners usually live out of town and don’t care what is happening on a daily basis. To make matters worse, the Codes and Standards Officer doesn’t keep an eye on violations. If anything, the zoning should be more strict. Don’t ruin my home value by allowing lesser standards next door to me. !!!!!

  2. Like the ordinance that we were told, no garbage containers on the street only n pick up,days, well its easier to count the ones in compliance than to count the ones that are not. There was to be a fine to those on electric bill. The city needs to enforce the ordinances they make !!

  3. Why? You either have zoning laws or you don’t. And to make it sound more ok – “with the safeguard of needing approval first from the council and Planning and Zoning”. Really -do you think the council has time to micromanage this ? Which requests are approved will be wishy washy depending on who is on the council – and depending on who is doing the asking to build a particular structure.
    Noone can then ever rely on the written Zoning ordinances for the city after this vote!
    Which leads me to think – why is so much time being spent right now on deviations to the zoning laws – doubling up on structures allowed per lot. WHO is asking?
    And the naive statement ‘ Kolby said he does not believe the city will be “inundated” with requests ‘ ….Really and if the council is inundated -ie too many requests that require attention by the council to micro manage the now non reliable zoning ordinances – THEN what? OOPs ?
    If it’s worth changing the zoning ordinances with each request – take the time to rewrite and pass the correct ones. Not we will decide if we or future council and P&Z members have time to make intelligent investigation of said request etc. The work involved to make a decision would never end. Ever.
    Current homeowners in all neighborhoods in the city deserve better than this APPROACH – They are already trying to pay for and keep up with taxes and home maintenance to retain their most valuable investment – their home.
    With all the subdivisions and apartments popping up currently – Development Services Director Stephanie Doland and the housing task force apparently need more to occupy their time – maybe study what currently the build ratio is.
    Where are the jobs to employ these newly moved in Brenham residents that brought attention to this current advertised housing shortage? Is an industry task force getting that accomplished?

  4. With P&Z approval means if your a person city hall likes your approved.
    It all comes down to who you are. What’s the point of having single family zoning?

  5. Really hate that the council approved this zoning change; and that the tax payers do not get a chance to voice their opinions before changes like this are made. Although they all seem to think this is beneficial for our community, and will help in creating rental property; I beg to differ. Take a stroll through Vintage Farms Neighborhood off 36, beautiful homes inundated with multi-family residences; those multi-family homes are not held to the same standard in curb appeal as the others within the neighborhood (which are bound to do so with deed restrictions and homeowner’s association enforcement). Also, the rental cost of these homes are comparable to the mortgage payments on the homes in the area, if not higher. I understand that we are a growing town, but sometimes growing too fast causes other problems; which we are seeing with our water. Instead of changing our zoning standards maybe we need to inforce the rules we have to keep our town the charming place it used to be.

    1. From the City of Brenham’s Website, “All City Council Meetings are held in Council Chambers in City Hall at 200 W. Vulcan Street, in downtown Brenham. City Council meetings are held on the first (1st) and third (3rd) Thursday of each month at 1:00 pm. All meetings are posted seventy-two (72) hours prior, as required by the Texas Open Meetings Act.”

      Even within the article, “One audience member also spoke against the change”.

      (No one is stopping you from attending the city council meetings to express your opinions)

      1. I work for a living. I don’t have the convenience of working for a not for profit government entity that can come up with these stupid solutions.

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